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The NDC Celebrates Success

by on March 10, 2014


The Adrienne C. Thomas Auditorium at the National Archives in College Park was packed on the morning of February 28, 2014 as over two hundred people, representing agencies from throughout the Federal Government, came together to celebrate the completion of quality assurance review of over 351 million pages of historically valuable classified records accessioned by the National Archives, commonly known as “the backlog.” The President of the United States had directed this review and established a deadline of December 31, 2013 for its completion.  In less than four years, agencies came together in support of the National Declassification Center (NDC) to make this achievement possible by stopping the endless merry-go-round of re-review, adopting standard processes and adopting a risk management approach to records that had been previously reviewed. 

In her opening comments, describing just a few of the elements that went into the success of the effort, NDC Director Sheryl Shenberger remarked to the assembly, “Look around this room, success looks like each of you!”

This success does not mean that the work of the NDC is done.  Much like a commencement, the celebration represented a beginning as well as an end.  New records continue to be accessioned, and we will build on the lessons learned during the backlog retirement to continually improve our process.  Many reviewed records await final segregation of the still classified from declassified, while other collections are in queue for archival preservation work and the creation of finding aids.   Standard training for declassification review and communication between declassification and records management professionals need to expand. The NDC, working with our government agency partners will continue to move forward and build on this success to make access happen.

NDC Director, Sheryl Shenberger Welcomes the Attendees

NDC Director, Sheryl Shenberger Welcomes the Attendees



NDC staffer Jamie White provided this post about his latest find:

I recently reviewed a Department of Justice project (Class 130/145 Secret Enclosures, NND 66350) which covered a portion of the civil rights movement from 1968 and part of 1969. The collection covers the Poor Peoples campaign containing movements, surveillance, informant statements and bios on high ranking members such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael, and Floyd McKissick. The project contains handwritten letters to both the President and Attorney General from people opposing the March on Washington, handwritten letters from African Americans pledging for help in the south, and memorandums from government officials pertinent to the March. It also contains the actual FBI case files and courtroom transcripts from the James Meredith’ attempted murder investigation and shooter James Aubrey Norvell’s trial. Reviewing these records in conjunction with Black History Month prompted me to write a short blog on some of Meredith’s accomplishments including his near death experience on June 6, 1966.

James Howard Meredith (born June 25, 1933) was an Air Force veteran, American civil rights movement figure, writer, and political adviser. He is best known as the first African-American student admitted to the segregated University of Mississippi in 1962, sparking a violent clash, in which two people died, and 160 U.S. Marshals, and 40 National guardsmen were wounded. This is regarded as a pivotal moment in the history of civil rights in the United States. Meredith graduated on August 18, 1963, with a degree in political science. He continued his education, focusing on political science at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria returning to the United States in 1965, where he attended law school through a scholarship at Columbia University and earned a law degree.

Four years after the integration of “Ole Miss,” Meredith launched his “March Against Fear” campaign. On June 6, 1966, Meredith set out from Memphis with an African walking stick in one hand, a Bible in the other, and a singular mission in mind. He planned to march alone, 220 miles to the Mississippi state capital of Jackson, to prove that an African American man could walk free in the South. The Voting Rights Act passed only a year earlier, and his goal was to inspire African Americans to register and go to the polls.

On the second day of the March just outside Hernando, Mississippi on Highway 51, Aubrey James Norvell shouted, “I just want James Meredith!” Shotgun blasts rang out across the highway, striking Meredith in the head, neck, back, and leg. Suddenly, one man’s crusade garnered much attention from larger civil rights organizations. After visiting Meredith at the hospital, Dr. King, CORE’s Floyd McKissick, and SNCC’s Stokely Carmichael, elected to continue the March in his absence, helping to register thousands of African American voters along the way. It would be twenty days before Meredith was able to rejoin the March, which ended on Sunday, June 26, twenty-one days after Meredith began the journey. Norvell pled guilty to the shooting, and was sentenced to five years in prison (three of which were suspended). Meredith is now 80 years old and currently resides in Jackson, Mississippi.



Tuesday, January 14, 2014, from 9 AM to noon, the National Archives National Declassification Center (NDC), in partnership with the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Historical Review Program, hosts a symposium: “A City Divided: Life and Death in the Shadow of the Wall.” Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero will provide opening remarks. Symposium speakers will explore newly released and published declassified documents that reveal East and West Berliners’ struggle for life and death in a divided city. The event is free and open to the public and press, and will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC (email NDC@nara.gov to reserve a seat).

The National Archives Building is located on the National Mall and is fully accessible. Attendees should use the Special Events entrance on 7th and Constitution Ave, NW. Metro: Yellow and Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter station.

Berlin Symposium Reminder

by on January 10, 2014


This is just a brief reminder to everyone that the NDC will be hosting its second symposium on Berlin: A City Divided: Life and Death in the Shadow of the Wall on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at the William G. McGowan Theater located at the National Archives Building, Constitution Street Special Event Entrance. The symposium will run from 9:00 AM to noon.



The informational webpage for our upcoming Berlin Wall symposium is now up at http://www.archives.gov/research/foreign-policy/cold-war/berlin-wall-1962-1987/
The full content of the booklet and DVD created for this project are accessible in their entirety, along with a finding aid to help reserachers with any records inquiries. Any questions or concerns can be directed to ndc@nara.gov
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